By Susan Lahey
Disclaimer: You can’t really write about hot cocoa fairly when the ski places are closed. Their cocoa may be out of this world. But you’ll have to find out for yourself — they’re not open at press time. That said, hot chocolate is to winter as lemonade is to summer. And most of the coffee places in the Enchanted Circle have their own special spin on it.
For example, in Red River, Onota Bakery (110 Pioneer Road) makes their hot chocolate in a unique way. Instead of powder, they mix Torani syrup, the chocolate syrup used in café mochas, and steamed milk. This was an exceptionally creamy, brilliant texture. But they not only served hot chocolate, they served hot white chocolate, a specialty offered also by Taos Cow in Arroyo Seco. Another special kind of chocolate is the Mexican hot chocolate served at World Cup (102 Paseo del Pueblo Norte), cocoa ground with almonds and cinnamon. This is a whole different experience in hot cocoa, one which so perfectly complements the flavor of Taos that no one should leave here without at least one spicy, compelling cupful.
At Café Loka (112 Camino de la Placita), they mix their own and it tastes almost like the stuff I remember drinking when I came in from sledding: Sweet. Sweeter than most but not too sweet. Other places, like Mondo Kultur (622 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur), make a less sweet version, but you can add some sugar with the whipped cream and chocolate drizzle topping.
For for the environmentally discerning, Elevation Coffee ( 1110 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, El Prado) sells an organic cocoa option.
Wired blends a nice cocoa and Mexican cocoa, but it is impossible to report where it falls on the cocoa scale. Tired and exhausted, I wandered into Wired and asked the barista, a friend of mine, to make me a cup of cocoa to add to my survey. When she gave it to me, I was bowled over. This, I thought, may be the best cocoa I’ve ever had. “Wow!” I exclaimed. “This is great! What’s in it?” “I cheated,” she confessed. “I stuck a shot of espresso in it. I knew you needed it.” Sometimes, it’s not all about the chocolate.